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Webber kicks off Australian build-up 28 Feb 2005

Mark Webber (AUS), Williams BMW FW26, with the world famous Sydney Harbour bridge in the background. Mark Webber Drives an F1 Car Over Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney, Australia, 27 February 2005. World © Sutton

Mark Webber gave his home country its first taste of 2005 Formula One action on Sunday when he drove his Williams over Australia's best known landmark, the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

After crossing the bridge around a dozen times, Webber was delighted: “Thundering with 900 bhp over that time-honoured structure was an amazing feeling. The engine sound over the ocean was fantastic. I just can't thank everybody enough in my home state New South Wales who made this show for the fans possible."

For Webber's drive, which was broadcast live on national television, the ‘coat hanger’, as the Australians nickname the bridge, was blocked off for a couple of hours. Usually traffic runs over the nearly 50 metres wide deck in eight lanes, plus two railway lines, a walk way and a bicycle way.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge, opened in March 1932, is the biggest (not longest) steel arch bridge in the world. At its highest point, the arch reaches 134 metres over sea level. The deck of the bridge is 49 metres above Sydney harbour.

Australia’s Formula One focus now moves to Melbourne where a special street parade on Wednesday precedes the Grand Prix meeting, which gets underway in Albert Park on Thursday.